GOOCH SUPPORT SYSTEMS, INC., GOOCH ENTERPRISES$ INC.,
HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH,)
MAHALEEL LUSTER, )
Defendant/Counterplaintiff, MAHALEEL LUSTER, sues plaintiffs / Counterdefendants, GOOCH SUPPORT S~STEMS, INC., GOOCH ENTERPRISES" INC., HAL GOOCH", and CHRIS GOOCH, and a11eges:GNERAL ALLEGATIONS
1. This is an action for damages which exceed $15,000.00,exclusive of interest, costs, and attorneys' fees.
2. At all times material hereto, HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH had the authority to act on behalf of GOOCH ENTERPRISES and GOOCH SUPPORT.
3. At all times material hereto, LUSTER was employed by the plaintiffs/counterdefendants, HAL GOOCH, GOOCH SUPPORT and GOOCH ENTERPRISES, co11ective1y referred to throughout as "GOOCH" unless the sense appears otherwise.
4. LUSTER was employed by the plaintiffs/counterdefendants referenced in the preceding paragraph to produce videos of various events and happenings involving the p1aintiffs/counterdefendants.
5. HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH are members of an organization called Amway. HAL GOOCH is a very high ranking member of the Amway organization, holding the title of "Double Diamond."
6. As a result of his employment, LUSTER was to produce videos for GOOCH. Additionally, LUSTER was asked to produce videos for other members of the Amway organization.
7. LUSTER accepted as partial compensation for his work ownership of the video equipment which was necessary for LUSTER to carry out his job.
8. The video equipment referenced in the paragraph above was paid for by GOOCH as partial compensation to LUSTER for the video production work in fact done.
9. At all times material hereto, GOOCH had complete control over the job performance of LUSTER. This control included but was not limited to:
10. GOOCH required LUSTER to travel allover the country and out of the country at all hours of the day and night with little or no notice in order for LUSTER to carry out the responsibilities of his employment.
11. During the production of these videos, LUSTER began to realize that many of the musical pieces which GOOCH told LUSTER to incorporate into the videos were musical pieces which were protected by the trademark and copyright laws.
12. The potential violation of trademark and copyright laws discussed above was brought to the attention or GOOCH by LUSTER on many occasions. LUSTER was told various things in response, including but not limited to:
- permission to use this material has already been obtained;
- the videos were not going to be sold and therefore using the videos does not violate any trademark or Copyright laws;
- that GOOCH owned the video rights and could get the audio rights but when you combined them it may cause problems but that it would be taken care of;
- that GOOCH was just stockpiling the tapes until such time as permission could be obtained;
- that royalties were in fact being collected for the use of the unauthorized material; and
- that if the material was re-recorded by studio; musicians there were no longer any copyright problems.
13. On or about March 18, ;19, and 20, 1994, at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, LUSTER was employed to produce a video for plaintiffs/counterdefendants, HAL GOOCH and his wife Susan Gooch advised that a surprise skit, desaribe4 as "something big" was to take place.
14. LUSTER and a production crew (this crew also worked on various Disney projects on a regular ongoing basis) were not advised of what the surprise skit would be.
15. Once the skit began, and to the disbelief of both LUSTER and his crew, persons dressed as Disney characters proceeded to go on stage calling each other "Mickey" , "Minnie" , "Donald Duck", "Captain. Hook", "Snow White", ."Cinderella" , "Tweedle Dumb" and "Tweedle Dee" to promote an upcoming Amway function at the Disney Dolphin Hotel in Orlando,' Florida on or about July 8, 9, and 10, 1994. LESTER and his production crew complained to HAL GOOCH advising that he did not have Disney's permission to use Disney characters to promote Amway. Regardless, LUSTER and his production crew were instructed by HAL GOOCH to film the event.
17. At all times material hereto, GOOCH was well aware that the permission to use these materials was not obtained and that the materials were being used unlawfully.
18. Throughout the course of his employment, LUSTER was assured that his relationship with GOOCH WAS long term.
19. LUSTER provided video production for approximately thirty (30) other members of the-Amway organization. LUSTER would be compensated for those services directly from those other individuals. This work was separate and distinct from LUSTER's work with GOOCH.
20. LUSTER told GOOCH in the presence of witnesses, on or about March 19, 1994, that he refused to duplicate five (5) different videos LUSTER had completed within the prior week because copyrights had not been obtained by GOOCH. GOOCH became irate because he had just told the audience of approximately 5,000 people to purchase the videos which would be on sale at his booth the following day (March 20, 1994). LUSTER still refused to have the videos duplicated and was subsequently ordered to report to GOOCH in Thomasvi1le, North Carolina on March 22, 1994, where GOOCH terminated LUSTER's services.
21. paragraphs 1. through 20 are realleged as if reprinted here in their entirety.
22. This count applies to HAL GOOCH, individually and on behalf of GOOCH ENTERPRISES and GOOCH SUPPORT.
23. At the time that LUSTER's relationship with GOOCH was terminated on March 22, 1994, LUSTER had established business relationships with many other Amway members.
24. At the time of termination, LUSTER already had functions scheduled, including, but not limited to, two (2) functions scheduled for March 25, 26, and 27, 1.994 in Lexington, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee with other Amway members for which LUSTER and his production crew were to be compensated.
25. Upon termination, GOOCH took actions to deprive LUSTER of these business relationships, including but not 1imited to contacting these other Amway people telling them that they could not use LUSTER's services. GOOCH used his high position with Amway to accomplish this destruction of LUSTER's business relationships.
26. HAL GOOCH was aware of the relationships between LUSTER and these other individuals and entities and intentionally took action to interfere with these relationships.
27. LUSTER has been damaged by this intentional and unjustified interference as he was no longer able to produce videos or functions for these other individuals nor was he able to conduct any future business with these other individuals.
28. As a result of the actions of the plaintiffs/counter defendants, LUSTER has sustained business damages, including but not limited to lost profit, both past and future, and damage to business reputation as well as emotional distress.
WHEREFORE, LUSTER demands judgment against HAL GOOCH, GOOCH ENTERPRISES, and GOOCH SUPPORT for compensatory damages, pre-judgment interest, costs, and punitive damages. LUSTER further demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.
29. Paragraphs 1 through 20 are realleged as if reprinted here in their entirety.
30. This count applies to HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH.
31. Both before and after the termination of LUSTER's relationship with the GOOCHES, the GOOCHES made false statements concerning LUSTER to third persons. Those statements include but are not limited to:
- accusing LUSTER of stealing a Rolex watch when in fact the watch was given 'to' him as a gift by GOOCH;
- accusing LUSTER of stealing property which was given to LUSTER as remuneration for his services;
- accusing LUSTER of stealing a set of golf clubs when in fact the golf clubs were brought and paid for by LUSTER; and
- falsely and fraudulently reporting to the insurance company that LUSTER stole certain video equipment.
32. The plaintiffs/counterdefendants knew that the statements made were false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the matters spoken.
33. The false information was conveyed to third persons including but not limited to the police department in Thomasville, North Carolina and GOOCH's insurance company.
34. The statements made by the plaintiffs/counterdefendants were in fact false.
35. Said statements damaged the business reputation of LUSTER as well as caused severe emotional distress and other financial damage and injury.
WHEREFORE, LUSTER demands damages against HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH together with interest and costs. Further, LUSTER demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.
36. Paragraphs 1 through 20 are realleged as if reprinted here in their entirety.
37. This count applies to HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH.
38. On or about the time of termination on March 22, 1994, LUSTER was summoned to the house of HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH.
39. At that time, LUSTER was maliciously, wantonly and willfully threatened with physical harm including but not limited to death. At the meeting referenced above, there were numerous arms and weapons present. Further, LUSTER was forced to leave the premises on foot and abandon the vehicle which he had arrived in as well as the video equipment contained within that vehicle. LUSTER was chased to the adjacent woods by HAL GOOCH.
40. HAL GOOCH further called LUSTER at his hotel room at the Ramada Inn Thomasvil1e numerous times on March 22, 1994, and during one of said calls, threatened to kill him with an assault rifle. Two witnesses were present in the room and heard LUSTER respond, "You guys are threatening to kill me!"
41. LUSTER was in justifiable fear for his physical safety and life. The foundation of this fear includes, but not limited to:
a. The demeanor and actions of HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH at the house as well as the actions of GOOCH's employees;
b. On March 22, 1994, Luster was ordered to appear at the Gooches' estate in Thomasvi1le, North Carolina. When Luster appeared Hal commanded one of Hal Gooch's bodyguard, who was acting at the direction and pursuant to the authority of the Gooches, seized Luster's car keys, and Luster was taken to the "trophy" room in a recess of the estate. A door in the 'trophy room led to the grounds of the estate, but the door was dead bolted and wired with an alarm that would sound if it were opened. The trophy room was adorned with the preserved remains of in excess of fifty animals the Gooches had killed on hunting trips. The Gooches owned a virtual armory and always had weapons within reach. Luster had witnessed all of tbe Gooches, including Hal Gooch's wife, Susan, emerge with guns drawn when they were offended because a maid resigned. Luster knew that the Gooches and their body guard always had weapons available, were easily offended, and were quick to draw their weapons when they were upset. When Luster arrived in the trophy room, Chris Gooch informed Luster that Hal Gooch was mad at Luster and that the only animal not hanging on the trophy room wall was a "nigger." This statement was designed to frighten, and succeeded in frightening, Luster, who is African-American.
c. On or about August or September 1992, Hal Gooch caused to be delivered to Luster a videotape of one of Gooch's numerous hunting forays in Africa. The tape displayed a black baboon that Gooch just had killed. The voices of Hal Gooch and his associate, Parker Grabill, were on the soundtrack of the tape. Grabill, exclaimed, "Look! It's Jesse Jackson." Gooch then chimed in, and he has fingers and a peeter like a little black boy!! As a result, Luster knew that Gooch was a violent man who was utterly contemptuous, of blacks and surrounded himself with other bigots.
42. The actions by HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH' were intentional, wanton and malicious and without legal provocation.
43. HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH had the present ability to
effectuate the offer of injury and LUSTER was aware of this fact.
44. As a direct and proximate result of the; actions of HAL GOOCH and CHRIS GOOCH, LUSTER has suffered severe emotional damages. WHEREFORE, LUSTER, demands' judgment against HAL GOOCH an4 CHRIS GOOCH, for compensatory, damages and punitive damages, together with costs. Further, LUSTER demands a trial by jury.
45. Counterplaintiff realleges paragraphs 1 through 20.
46. This count applies to Hal Gooch and Chris Gooch (the
47. On March 22, 1994, Luster was ordered to appear at the Gooches' estate in Thomasville, North Carolina. When Luster appeared as commanded, Hal Gooch's bodyguard ,who was acting at the direction and pursuant to the authority 9f the Gooches, seized Luster's car keys, and Luster was taken to the "trophy" room in a recess of the estate. A door in the trophy room led to the grounds of the estate, but the door was dead bolted and wired with an alarm that would sound if it were opened. The trophy room was adorned with the preserved remains of in excess of fifty animals the Gooches had killed on hunting trips. The Gooches owned a virtual armory and always had weapons within reach. Luster had witnessed all of the Gooches, including Hal Gooch's wife, Susan, emerge with guns drawn when they were offended because a maid resigned. Luster knew that the Gooches and their bodyguard always had weapons available, were easily offended, and were quick to draw their weapons when they were upset. When Luster arrived in the trophy room, Chris Gooch informed Luster that Hal Gooch was mad at Luster and that the only animal not hanging on the trophy room wall was a "niqger." This statement was designed to frighten, and succeeded in frightening, Luster, who is African-American.
48. At the time of this termination, LUSTER was unlawfully detained against his will.
49. When Hal Gooch arrived in the trophy room, he verbally assaulted Luster. Luster, who had been seated, rose to leave, and Hal Gooch, in a menacing tone, ordered Luster to "Sit down, boy"!
50. Luster could not depart through the door that led to the grounds because it was dead bolted. Hal Gooch's bodyguard was aligned with the only other door out of the trophy room. This door led to the interior of the manor and was approximately one hundred twenty five feet from the kitchen door, the only unlocked door in the manor. Based on past experience, Luster reasonably believed that the Gooches and their bodyguard, by whom he was surrounded, were armed and dangerous.
51. Luster was not free to leave the trophy room or the Gooches' estate, although he desperately wanted to do so.
61. During the relationship between LUSTER and plaintiffs / counterdefendants and subsequent to the termination of that relationship, these mentioned plaintiffs/counterdefendants engaged in behavior directed toward LUSTER which was outrageous and malicious and carried out intentionally or with a reckless disregard for the consequences to LUSTER.
62. The behavior mentioned in the paragraph above includes but is not limited to:
63. The actions of plaintiffs/counterdefendants have caused LUSTER severe emotional distress and will continue to cause severe emotional distress upon LUSTER into the future. WHEREFORE, LUSTER demands, damages against HAL GOOCH and Chris GOOCH together with costs. Further, LUSTER demands a trial by jury.
BREACH OF CONTRACT
64. Paragraphs 1 through 20 are realleged as if reprinted here in their entirety.
65. This count applies to HAL, GOOCH individually and on behalf of GOOCH ENTERPRISES and GOOCH SUPPORT.
66. At all times material hereto, LUSTER performed work for the plaintiffs/counterdefendants and did not receivl7 full compensation for those services.
67. LUSTER and plaintiffs/counterdefendants had an oral agreement whereby LUSTER would receive the usual and customary compensation for his services as could be expected in the industry.
68. Plaintiffs/counterdefendants assured LUSTER that the remainder of their compensation for, work already performed would be forthooming pursuant to their agreement.
69. At the time of termination in March 19'94, LUSTER had not yet received fu11 compensation for the work performed for the plaintiffs/oounterdefendants.
70. The plaintiffs/counterdefendants breached their obligation under the agreement by failing to pay LUSTER the usual and customary compensation for his services per the agreement.
71. As a direct and proximate result of plaintiffs/counter defendants' breach, LUSTER has suffered economic damages. WHEREFORE, LUSTER demands compensatory damages against plaintiffs/counterdefendants together with costs. Further, LUSTER demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.
72. paragraphs 1 through 20 are real1eged as if reprinted here in their entirety.
73. This count applies to GOOCH, GOOCH SUPPORT, and GOOCH ENTERPRISES.
74. At all times material hereto, LUSTER was the lawful owner of various pieces of vide0 equipment which he had received as partial. compensation for his work for the plaintiffs/counterdefendants.
75. on or about March .1994, plaintiffs/counterdefendants unlawfully and without right converted the use of LUSTER's video equipment to their own possession and use on a permanent basis.
76. LUSTER has demanded that the plaintiffs/counterdefendants return his property to him. This demand has not been met and to the best of LUSTER's knowledge, the plaintiffs/counterdefendants are still in unlawful possession of his property.
77. As a proximate result of the failure of the plaintiffs /counterdefendants' unlawful conversion of LUSTER's property to their use, LUSTER has sustained damages including lost value of the converted property and lost profit, both past and future.
WHEREFORE, LUSTER .demands judgment against HAL GOOCH, GOOCH ENTERPRISES, and GOOCH SUPPORT for compensatory damages, pre Judgment interest and costs. LUSTER further demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable.
I HEREBY CERTIFY that a copy of the foregoing was mailed this
29th day of September, 1999 to:
STEPHEN' J" McDONALD. ESQUIRE
McDONALD & CRAWFORD, P. A.
315 S.E. 7th street, .suite 303 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Attorneys for Defendant/ Counterplaintiff